Ally Week, a celebration of straight allies who stand up for the LGBT community, wraps up tomorrow with Spirit Day.
Today we get thoughts from Philadelphia Union defender and US U-23 team member Amobi Okugo:
I’m an ally because I support the cause and like what this group is doing to raise awareness in the sports community. One of my best friend’s brothers is gay and he dealt with that by hiding his personality just to fit in with the soccer team he played on. I know how hard it was for him so when I saw this chance, I said ‘why not’. . . .An ally to me means that I should set an example and practice what I preach in terms of treating everyone the same way.
Ally Week 2012 continues, started by GLSEN in 2005 and now a yearly time to honor and celebrate those straight allies who stand up for the LGBT community. So far we’ve heard from Alexi Lalas and Lance Parker on why they are allies.
Today we hear from Montreal Impact defender Jeb Brovsky. Off the pitch Jeb founded Peace Pandemic, a worldwide project empowering youth by uniting children from different backgrounds through soccer.
I’m an LGBT Ally because I strongly believe in the equal rights of all human beings and I think people should be able to love whomever they choose. I have many friends and family in the LGBT community and I wholeheartedly support and celebrate their lives. Being an Ally, to me, means taking a firm stance on the side of promoting social acceptance of the LGBT community. As athletes we can show the youth by example that homosexuality is not a stigma, human defect or any of the prejudicial and hateful words attributed to it by dogmatists and other biased groups.
The Vancouver Whitecaps kicked off their Off the Pitch web series with captain Jay DeMerit learning some tap dance moves. They continue with defender and soccer ally Jordan Harvey taking to the skies with some beginner pilot lessons.
The idea of the Off the Pitch series is to pair Whitecaps players with fans who have a unique talent or career to share.
Jordan Harvey is the second brave participant, taking the controls of a small aircraft along with Whitecaps fan Kristjan Aug. And it’s all done to a Loggins-esque soundtrack complete with Berlin’s classic Top Gun Ballad.
Now, if you guys want to go full-on Top Gun, maybe shirtless beach volleyball can make an appearance in a future installment.
You can read more about Jordan Harvey’s flight and the Off the Pitch series at the Caps website.
It’s Ally Week, started by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network to celebrate those straight allies who stand up for the LGBT community. Yesterday we featured Alexi Lalas, and in his own words why he’s an ally.
Today in Ally Week we hear from Lance Parker. If you aren’t already aware of Lance, he’s the goalkeeper for NASL’s Edmonton FC, a model on the side, and the nominee from Oklahoma for Cosmopolitan magazine’s 2012 Bachelor of the Year contest.
Here’s what Lance said about being an ally:
I’m a LGBT Ally because I feel that it is a good group to be a part of. Everyone that is a part of it cares about the equality of people and wants anyone, regardless of their background, to be able to enjoy watching and playing the beautiful game of soccer. Being an Ally means accepting people for who they are, not judging anyone, and being supportive to those that are having a hard time and may be struggling with being LGBT. It also means trying to get rid of any discrimination or hate that may be revolving around the sport of soccer.
I think that statement deserves a hearty endorsement to Vote for Lance!
Today is the first day of Ally Week, an annual observance of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network since 2005. It’s a time to identify, support, and celebrate LGBT allies, so we’re going to do the same this week here at gay4soccer. We’ve asked some of our allies why they are an ally, and what being an ally means to them.
First up is ESPN analyst, former USMNT defender, and the red headed half of the Big Head Red Head podcast Alexi Lalas:
The beauty of soccer is that anyone can enjoy it. It’s is the most inclusive sport in the world. I’m a proud Ally because as our world changes it’s important that soccer continues to be a sport that welcomes everyone.
Alexi was a part of our Allies List from day one, and he took time out of his busy All Star Game week schedule to hang out with his LGBT and allied fans. Thank you Alexi, for being an ally and for all that you do.
DC United midfielder Joanna Lohman took to the stage at the University of Pennsylvania to help relaunch GO! Athletes, a national network of LGBT student-athletes and their allies.
Short for Generation Out, GO! Athletes will provide services such as peer support for LGBT athletes, assistance in creating GO! Athletes chapters at schools, and leading workshops and speakers forums.
Joanna Lohman was the keynote speaker for last night’s relaunch, where she talked about her philanthropic work and life as an out athlete: “This is the time for the next generation of out athletes and allies. Coaches, athletes, fans and allies alike are ready.”
Lohman met her partner Lianne Sanderson when both played for the Philadelphia Independence of WPS.
You can get more information about GO! Athletes at their website.
(Photo: Samarth Shrivastava, Daily Pennsylvanian)
Today is National Coming Out Day. If there is someone in your life dealing with the struggle that is coming out to friends, family, and coworkers as an LGBT person, give them some love and support today.
Here are some coming out resources that may be a help to them or you:
- HRC, the Human Rights Campaign
- GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network
- PFLAG, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – a great resource if you’re a straight ally looking for ways to be supportive.
Share with them the stories of those in the American soccer community who have come out since last year’s National Coming Out Day:
November 2011: David Testo, former Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact midfielder
Early last month Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo took part in a video for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which drew fire from Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns. Burns called upon the team to prohibit Ayanbadejo from expressing his views on gay marriage.
Enter Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings (another state with gay marriage on the ballot November 6). He took to the internet to pen an expletive-laced blog post in Ayanbadejo’s defense and has since challenged a conservative state representative to a debate and appeared on the cover of Out Magazine.
With so many soccer players who have shown support for the LGBT community, where are the ones vocal about gay marriage like Ayanbadejo and Kluwe?
The Vancouver Whitecaps are launching a new video series called “Off the Pitch,” and captain Jay DeMerit is the star of the inaugural episode.
The idea is for Whitecaps fans to Tweet their hobbies and jobs to the team, and they will film your favorite player learning a bit about your interest.
Jay DeMerit is the team guinea pig for the project as a member of the front office staff takes him along for a lesson in tap dancing.
Check out Jay and his newly found freestyle tap skills:
What other talents to you want to see from the Whitecaps players?
Soccer ally, fashion model, and FC Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker is up for Cosmopolitan Magazine’s 2012 Bachelor of the Year, representing his home state of Oklahoma.
Lance’s ideal first date would be cooking a chicken or steak dinner for someone, loves head massages, and waits five dates before jumping in the sack. (What’s a fifth date?)
This is the second time in three years a member of our Soccer Ally list has been a Bachelor of the Year nominee, with DC United midfielder Chris Pontius representing the District of Columbia in 2010. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ Hunter Gilstrap represented Pennsylvania last year, making it three years in a row on the list for American soccer pros.
You can vote for Lance Parker (and by extension, all of American soccer) here until October 18.
We hope to be talking to Lance soon about his nomination so if you have any questions for him, tweet them to @gay4soccer.